Friday, July 29, 2005

Moral Confusion and Suicide Bombing

As usual, Norm is spot on with his article about moral clarity and suicide bombing. The more this type of message gets out and hits the spot, the better because the slippage of ideas that permeates the thinking of the self-loathing British left may well permit a moral confusion in other quarters from which may emanate some truly terrible consequences.

By slippage of ideas, I mean to say that it a very, very short step from (erroneously) saying that the Palestinians have no other choice than to kill Israeli children in pizzarias, to saying that suicide bombing is morally permissable and this type of currently widespread confusion is probably why so many of the London bombers' mothers and friends were unable to foresee that some in their midst were about to take the false logic of all this just one short but devastating step further.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

And Another Reason to Home Educate

I suppose it is actually more constructive to set out the reasons to home educate with positive expressions of how wonderful HE is...(since it really is that great), but when you're handed anti-school stories like this, well honestly, who could resist!

School class sizes are set to rocket to 60, despite Labour's election promise to keep the numbers down. All the while, please note, this very same government is claiming to be promoting personalised learning! (Classic Third Way Labour doublespeak, ie: gibberish!)

After reading this, if your kids are still in school, and are not enjoying it, think about HEing, and about how the personalised learning that is actually possible at home will help them to thrive. Then, if you live in the UK, visit the Education Otherwise Website for a sample of a deregistration letter which you could send to the Head over the summer hols.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Home Education in the Sticks

There were times before we took the plunge and moved from London to this extremely rural part of the world, when we wondered if this new setting could possibly provide a sufficient variety and wealth of opportunity for our home educated children. Short of living in the middle of Dartmoor, you really would be hard pushed to get much more rural location. More worrying still, this part of the world was not known for having a thriving HE community.

Report after some six years of living and HEing here: we needn't have fretted. This week, five days out of seven, we will be visiting five entirely new venues, places we have never been to ever before, where we will be able to learn, amongst other things, about how to prepare restaurant style food, how to shin up rock faces and climb down simulated pot-holes, look for and identify bugs in fields and ponds, learn about the politics and intricacies of communal living, and do some drumming, painting and other crafts. The other two days of the week, we will be visiting friends, where the kids will be able to play from noon till late in the evening, giving them the chance to really become enmeshed in their various projects, which last time included building stunt cars, crashing said cars down various slopes, playing a completely (to adults at least) obscure and immensely complex card game, playing shops and mums and dads, all these for hours at a time.

I remember the occasional day such as this as a child. Such times were extraordinarily meaningful and I cannot believe that I didn't learn a vast amount during such apparently formless and meandering days.

As for the HE community, again we needn't have worried. It is generally thriving here.

Even the weather is magical. Since the schools broke up it has been nominally terrible....but those low lying clouds, swaddling the hills into receeding layers of grey as we drove over the ridge on our way home, I wouldn't be without any of this.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Reason to Be Cheerful

Home Educating mum and birth partner extraordinaire, Katrina Soper, helped her friend deliver a baby girl in the back seat of her car, in the rugby club, no less! That's pressure for you! Many, many congratulations to all. You'll be replacing their fly-half for the next fixture, K, the way you caught that baby!

Reasons to be Anxious

To be honest, it is hard to remain chipper around here at the moment. It isn't easy to revel in the various private good fortunes that befall us when the Western world seems so grotesquely threatened, and I find it impossible not to worry for family and friends in London. My nephews are tiny and extraordinary and right in the hub of this horrible situation.

Then there is the deeply depressing and worrying evidence that we not only have to live with this new threat, but that we also have to put up with the moral confusion of the Left, who rather than condemn the London bombers, prefer instead to save their rage either for the British police, for their recent terrible mistakes, or for the British Government, who are seen as in some way complicit in the bombing, or otherwise actually responsible for it, with the bombs in this argument being the direct result of the war in Iraq or any other Western misdemeanour you happen to think of.

You can see how this goes. Many of those of left wing persuasion, with their vivid hatred of GWB and with an anti-capitalist, anti-American, antiwar bias, suddenly find themselves in the position of understanding, and if not explicitly but nearly so, condoning the bombings. Home educators too, with their dislike of government interference and sense of victimhood, can find themselves in a similar position. Both these groups find it very easy to think the enemy's enemy their friend, somehow forgetting that this new-found pal is a murderous, irrational nut-case.

So the fight for moral sense to be made of this situation goes on not just in the Muslim community but in the indigenous British population, a fight which is so important because it is necessary to stifle the myths that perpetuate terrorism.

Whether of left or right persuasion, we do not need to swallow the bombers versions of events, which consist of half-truths and evasions. We need to realise, for example, that there need be no sense of injustice about the current Afghan government. President Hamid Karzai is no puppet of US imperialism. He was voted in in an election that had an 80% turnout and which produced a decisive victory for this man and for democracy. Most Iraqis yearn for a stable and democratic future, without the idiotic machinations of suicide bombers. US interventions in Kosovo and Bosnia happened entirely to protect Muslim populations from genocide.

And to quote John Rentoul from the Independent on Sunday:

"The worst succour that the antiwar left in Britain can give to the terrorist, however, is to entertain the idea that there is a moral equivalence between the deliberate killing of civilians and the casualties of military action in Iraq. ...The purpose of the invasion of Iraq, whatever you think of George Bush's motives, was not to kill civilians. Even on the strongest antiwar reading, there is a vast moral gulf between the actions of the coalition and those of suicide bombers, whether in London, Iraq or Israel."

It is essential at the very least to get this barest minimum of an idea very, very straight so that we may stifle false theories of the apparent permissibility of suicide bombing and in doing so, limit the perpetuation of such dangerous ideas.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

More Power and More Publicity to These People

Iraqis Stand Against Terrorism.

A report from an Iraqi newspaper, paraphrased by Power Line.

The translator reports: "Tens of thousands of Iraqis stood silent for three minutes in over 130 Fahrenheit heat to commemorate victims of terror and in a sign of unified defiance of terrorism and I have not seen a single report on this. I waited all day Wednesday and all day today and nothing. The news reported the small anti-America demonstration by Alsadar and some Baathists in April but somehow missed the whole Iraqi nation standing still in defiance of terrorism."

OK so perhaps these Iraqi anti-terrorism demonstrators would have got more instantaneous publicity if they had strapped a load of nail polish remover mix to their bellies, but instead they were actually doing the right thing, and if they keep doing it, the rightness of their actions has a good chance of eventually sinking in, because of course, terrorists have a problem - people very, very rapidly get very, very fed up with them.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

So Who is Responsible?

So who exactly is responsible for the current situation that leads to the bombs on the London transport system?

There are a number of different responses to this question, most of which have a capacity to reveal a great deal about the entire moral structure that a person adopts.

The best answer at the moment seems to be to blame the criminals who are responsible for the bombs. This position is a truth-seeking objectivist one. It seeks out theories that have good explanations and match the facts. This position also implies that the holder understands that whilst there may be reasons for someone acting as they do, these people are not helpless amoral slaves of circumstance. They are instead moral agents with free will who are capable of reacting to a situation in any way they choose.

The fact that we are free to choose to behave in any particular way in response to the same set of circumstances means that when we choose to behave in a criminal and utterly immoral way, we should be held utterly responsible when we do. So whilst a terrorist bomber may say that he chooses to act this way because it is the only way that he could react to the problem of the invasion of Iraq, there is no need to see this as being the case, simply because it is patently NOT so. Such a person could, if he was serious about getting UK and US troops out of Iraq, for example, do precisely the opposite of what he chooses to do; he could call for an end to terrorist violence in Iraq, since a growth in such an idea would mean that troops could much more quickly be withdrawn.

In contrast to the objectivist and seemingly accurate moral assessment as described above, there are an almost infinite number of wrong moral evaluations and attributions of blame, many of which have found their way onto the internet and onto the pages of national newspapers such as the Guardian.

By way of a refutation of many of these faulty types of thinking, go see Norm's article in the Guardian, in which admirably attempts to sets the readers straight.

Freedoms Eroded

Security measures in the London Underground are becoming so stringent and so sensitive to unusual behaviour, that Home Educated kids, with their slightly different take on life, are being caught up in the action. A fifteen year old Home Educated boy was taken into custody yesterday after he decided to take it easy, miss the first available train and take the next one on the Northern Line. This fairly innocuous decision was all he needed to do to arouse suspicion and to cause him to be stopped and searched. Unfortunately he had also purchased an antique sabre of the kind of which he has a large collection which he had hidden away at the bottom of a bag, tightly wrapped in stuff so as not to get into trouble. This combination of factors temporarily cost him his freedom, caused him to have his fingerprints taken, to have his DNA put permanently on file, to be treated very roughly and disrespectfully by the police, his records kept forever and his parents and friends to go wild with anxiety when he failed to turn up for his script writing meeting.

So we now have another level of danger from the state to which innocent children and their families are subjected. Not only do we have to look out for truancy patrols, make sure our kids are home before a curfew comes into effect, or generally observe some hidden rules of behaviour which will mean that we do not become subject to an Antisocial Behaviour Order. we now have to get them to try to ensure that they behave so utterly normally that they will never risk being duffed up by the police.

The terrorists are beginning to win. We are losing the basis for a free and open society. For more on the issue of how serious this matter already is and may become, visit: Sick Man in Europe at the Gates of Vienna.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Home Education in the Czech Republic

From The Prague Daily Monitor, there is news of a proposal to extend the right to home educate to all Czech families. Currently Czech parents have to provide a significant reason in order to HE, and the kids have to sit and pass exams every six months.

All in all, makes one glad to live in the UK, but good to see that legislation could be loosening it's iron grip.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


This isn't really bloggable material as I see it, but it is about the only thing that has been really occupying me for the last week, and am just going to get it off my chest, so to speak.

Little one has had to be weaned very, very suddenly as I have to go in for a medical procedure which will probably prove that I am entirely healthy. This is all quite annoying and have taken to feeling quite peculiar. Little one, meanwhile, is just fine and puts me in the position of feeling far less emotionally mature than a three year old.

Will speak to consultant just one more time about this...but I think he has made his thinking plain...Bother, bother, bother.

Incidentally, to anyone else who is thinking of weaning rather suddenly out there, (G, S, and J?), I would just say that several things have taken me very much by surprise but which, on talking to quite a few others out there are apparently fairly normal: the ease with which child could understand what was going on, the ease with which she did it, my completely weird, unpredictable and husband-upsetting tearfulness, the desperate missing of the child, feelings of having abandoned child, and a strange all-overish sort of sensation; but also a new sense of identity for both myself and child, of child establishing themselves independently in the world, of my ability to get dressed in the morning without having to think about how I am going to be able to whip my tits out...all that sort of stuff, which I haven't experienced now for nearly eight, EIGHT years, and most of all, of loving child so much...Weep, blub....urrrrrgh...

Am off to play footie first, I think. Then scout hut...then Dorset...

Monday, July 18, 2005

Empowering Good People

Charles Moore, never one not to risk the wrath of others for saying what he believes, has recently written:

"Another thing said is, "But most of the Muslims I come across are sweet, peaceful people." True, at least in my experience, but the unanswered question is, how can the sweet, peaceful people best be empowered? One could demand answers from British Muslim leaders to some hard questions. Will they condemn the Muslim rule which says that believers who apostasise should be killed? Will they condemn the killing and kidnapping of all British citizens including troops in Iraq? Will they state that all suicide bombing is unIslamic? Will they issue fatwahs against Osama bin Laden and others who preach terror in the name of Islam? Could anyone who refused to do any of these things be considered a good citizen of this country?"

Good questions all.

UPDATE: and it seems that at least part of this demand has just been met. Muslim leaders today denounced the London bombings as unIslamic. They also went on to say that there are many other people in Britain today who are prepared to become suicide bombers - so these leaders really do their work cut out for them.

Criminal Used Home Schooling as a Cover

Whether or not we want to, I feel that we are best off attempting to deal with the issues raised by this kind of terrible situation. OK, so it shouldn't have to be our business, but let's face it, it can be. People will bunch us together as questionable characters and laws may become stricter if we aren't very careful.

All in all, a story like this actually makes me feel better about the impending invasion of the educrats into our lives, which will probably happen when they find that we have health records but no matching schooling records. The reason to feel better: we can argue that the legal framework now exists in the UK for a fully proportionate response to this type of deeply immoral and abusive behavior. Children, through the matching of NHS records and school records, will now be known about, they can be found, and truly terrible cases of abuse will come to light; but those of us who are going about our business and fulfilling the legal requirements can be left almost completely alone. Long may this be the case.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

And a Stunning Day

Another stunning day in what turns out to be a rather stunning British summer: long, long hours of sunshine and children playing for hours in the garden, with no threat whatsoever of them falling in the pool since this is still only half dug.

Dh decided to save both cash and his waistline by digging the area for the new pool without the aid of a ditch digger. His plan seems to be working: he announced this morning that he had lost a stone in weight after only a few days of doing this.

Since this announcement, I have been throwing myself into this digging business, but I'm now wondering about the results of all this for me . The bramble bushes were very problematic, and I have a sort of heady sensation that is perhaps sunstroke, and if I'm seeing correctly, I appear to have put on weight, which is quite likely as muscle weighs more than fat, though I may well have just eaten everyone else's suppers as well as my own. Dh does seem to be doing some more cooking right now and the children are complaining to him about something. I've been given a glass of water and told to go to bed, which seems a little heavy handed, if you ask me.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

What to Do with a Conspiracy Theory

Theories suggesting possible causes for the London bombs other than that they were entirely the handiwork of four British-born Muslim men, have begun to proliferate on some of the UK home educating listservs. Predominant amongst what often were merely hints and suggestions of a conspiracy, was the idea that members of the British government were aware that the atrocity was about to occur and did nothing to prevent it. The reason why the government should apparently have allowed the atrocities to happen, was either unclear, or was attributed to the idea that the government was trying to garner support for the Identity Card scheme.

A reasonable number of home educators kept their heads. They demanded to see evidence for such a hypothesis. The supposedly corroborative evidence that was produced, such as the fact that both the London mayor, Ken Livingstone and the PM Tony Blair seemed insincere in their speeches, or that there was an exercise bomb alert being conducted by a private firm at some of the stations on the lines where the bombs went off, or that there was major disruption on the tube network that morning prior to the bombs going off, simply did not amount to anything of note, and some HEors did their best to point this out.

Undeterred, the hypothesists came back. At this point, it is possible to start to get a little desperate! How can people really start to believe a theory for which their is absolutely no corroborative evidence at all? However, there is another way of demonstrating the falsity of these kinds of hypothesis, and this entails taking the hypothesis seriously. What must really have happened in order for a particular hypothesis to have been enacted?

To this end, these kinds of questions were posed:
"If your theory is right, how did the government manage to either recruit so many conspirators, (since permitting a bombing of this size would require an awful lot of recruiting of the police force, for example), or if they didn't recruit them, how did they manage to dupe so many people?"
"Why would people who do not stand to gain politically from the acceptance of ID cards agree to collaborate?"
"If these people were instead rewarded financially, how would they have been paid?".
"How would one ensure the collaboration of all those accountants?"
"Is the media also implicated?"
"If they are, how were they reliably recruited?"
"If the media is being duped, how is it that they have suddenly all become so stupid when it is normally the dream of every journalist to uncover the hidden story?"
"How is it that not one credible person, close to the supposed sources, has not blown the whistle?"
"Surely, some of the conspirators would have been deeply concerned as to the danger posed to family and friends, and would either have called a halt to the proceedings or would have threatened to expose the conspiracy."

When all these questions are answered feasibly, then I will consider a change of mind, but until that point the best explanation remains the official one.

Occasionally it is possible to think that there are signs that the HE community is gaining in political and ethical maturity, but clearly we aren't by any means the whole way there yet! We can only hope that the latest chance to thrash out this kind of issue will provide an opportunity for the more truth-like theories to prevail and that home educators will eventually lead the way in clear-headed, truth-seeking thinking

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Zillionth Reason to Home Educate

Nanny now doesn't leave your schooled child alone for one single private moment, even in his downtime when he could be relaxing, eating his lunch.

This article from The Beeb website in which the issue of the outrageous invasion of privacy is merited but the briefest, almost sarcastic of mentions. Cripes.

A Home Education Evening

Watson's Blog describes what some of us got up to last night. The only thing she doesn't go into was the bit about my lifts and their beers under their chairs. Good grief, the return journey was a voluble one! And they wouldn't get out of my car when I tried to drop them off, so involved were they in discussing the issue of some of the seven deadly sins!

Thanks for what turned out to be an extremely entertaining evening, Watson

Balance of Nature, Cont'd.

At least the farmers aren't shooting these . This is the third one we've seen in so many days.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Nowhere to Hide

In the situation that a child has never been to school in the first place, it has been the right of families in the UK to educate their children at home without having to inform anyone of their intentions. This seems just about right. We didn't have to inform anyone of our intention to conceive in the first place, and we managed the first four, often most difficult, educational years pretty much entirely alone, so why sudddenly should we automatically become answerable to an authority out there who routinely interferes without offering any perceivable benefit and often inflicts great harm?

But it seems that our freedom to educate our children without being known to the authorities really does look to be about to go by the by in the very near future. The DfES has re-confirmed in its latest ISA update that by the end of 2005 Local Education Authorities should have in place "rigorous arrangements" for ensuring that all eligible children are in full time education.

A company by the name of Liquidlogic,, whose website has suddenly become very difficult to access, has apparently launched a "cost effective" system for helping to find children within the LEA who may be living there but are unknown to the LEA and therefore have no school place. (Why it should be cost effective completely beats me, seeing as it is my money and I don't want it, but anyway...). The system relies on sharing demographic information from the Primary Care Trust, ie: our family doctors and any other agencies willing to assist, and comparing it using the Liquidlogic "Protocol ID Manager System" with children known to the LEA. Because most children are born with the assistance of the National Health Service, they are well placed to know of the existence of children."

Of course the question "is this proportionate?" springs to mind. Perhaps, just perhaps there are a number of children out there who are being tied naked to commodes for their entire lives, are being growled at and beaten by their parents, are not learning even basic language skills, are malnourished to the point of starvation.

On the other hand, the knowledge that we have been completely free of scrutiny by the authorities has undoubtedly allowed my family to grow and prosper in a way that really would have been extremely difficult had the LEA officials been breathing down our necks. We have been able to respect the unique learning needs of our children in a way that would have been almost impossible had the authorities been checking up on us, with their apparently iron laws about what constitutes age-appropriate learning.

The best that we can hope for now? I guess that if this all goes through, that what is left of our freedoms as they are currently enshrined in education law, are indeed respected. That we will remain free of interference from the authorities unless they have reasonable grounds to suspect that we are not offering an education that is appropriate for the age, ability and aptitude of the child; but I certainly shall, when they contact me as is their right in order to make a preliminary assessment, make the point that I am not happy that my details from my medical records have been bandied around like this, for what other information in my medical notes do they feel they have an absolute right to access? How may I ever trust my GP again?

Peter Vaughan

Testaments to the qualities of Peter Vaughan, the HE father killed in a motorbike accident on Tuesday this week, continue to accrue.

Throughout the HE gathering yesterday, people spoke of his kindness, his quick thinking, his playfulness, his ability to make people feel good about themselves, his ability to inspire both adults and children.

We would love to tell him how well the gathering went. How much the children relished the company of all who were there. How vigorously they generated their own interests, followed them through with energy, love and enthusiasm, how they co-operated together, across ages and genders, how they played in the sun until late into the evening when we finally bump started the last car.

He is so badly missed and his family is in our thoughts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

What Should We Tell the Children?

Events such as the recent bombings in London throw up the question of what to say to one's children about such occurrences.

A few UK home educating bloggers have mentioned the matter of discussing these issues with their children but none, as far as I am aware, have explicitly linked the bombings to Islamic theology.

Some have correctly pointed out to their children that we do not want the bombings to hand the government the right to erode our freedoms any further, and that we will not allow the bombs to alter the way we live. Other HE bloggers have rightly hoped for the capture of the guilty parties.

But there is also a much less admirable strain that often runs concurrently and often in contradiction to these desires. Many have quoted themselves as passing on the relativistic dictum to their children to the effect that "Everyone has different views, and everyone is entitled to these views, but unfortunately some people feel that the only way they can get their views heard is through these violent actions." This view will only lead to confusion and perdition, since by stating that everyone has a right to hold any view they like, it is more than likely to imply to a child that these views are all equally legitimate. This formulation will also potentially imply that because people have a right to hold any view they like, they also have a right to express these ideas in any way they choose, since clearly one of their views consists of believing that it is legitimate to express their ideas violently.

As mentioned in Dymphna's Blog "A functional philosophical system must have an understanding of evil". We lead our children into an immoral maze of confusion and meaninglessness if we do not try to help them with this.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Shocking News

We are so sorry to hear of the death of the father of a local HE family, who died this morning in a motorbike accident.

He was an immediately engaging, witty, clever and kind man and will be sadly missed by all of us. His family are in our thoughts.

Update: There is a link here from this morning's press.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dymphna's Blog

My previous complaint that I couldn't find any satisfactory blogs when last I looked, makes me look as if I must have been suffering from an appalling bout of myopia. I can't stop being awed and enamoured of so many of the blogs I have recently come across that have almost given up reading anything else...apart from literature for 3 and 8 year olds that is.

The newest discovery: Gates of Vienna with a mail about the necessity of a concept of evil.

Award for the Snarkiest Letter of the Year

And for a hilarious followup to the previous post, go to Ramblings, Rants and Remedies for Snarkiest Letter of the Year so far.

"Home Schools Run by Well-Meaning Amateurs"

What better sign can you get that Home Education is thriving, than to witness the proliferation of ill-informed rants about it from teachers unions and other organisations representing schools!

This one from the NEA in the USA, where this kind of thing is clearly happening too.

One of the amusing things about this article, and it is a feature that is common to many of these kinds of pieces, is that the case is made that you need to be an expert in something order to be able to teach it . Clearly though, when it comes to trying to educate about home education, for some odd reason, you don't need any expertise whatsoever. Could this be a rather basic error of not catching yourself in your own contradictions, by any chance?

By the way, I don't think it essential to be an expert in the subject before you can teach it. What you do need to be able to do, is to be aware that one's knowledge is not (and probably never is) perfect and that one is therefore prepared, through a process of conjecture and refutation, and seeking out appropriate sources of help, to improve upon that knowledge. It is perfectly possible to do this profitably in the company of children whom one is helping with learning, since this way they can learn that knowledge does not come as fixed infallible packages from some authoritarian source, but that knowledge grows and hopefully improves, and is worked out in their own minds, through rational criticism: hypothesis formulation and rejection of poor theories.

In addition, there is simply no way that any teacher, even within their own area of specialisation is going to be an expert in everything that a child genuinely wants to learn and surely we can all acknowledge that a child learns best when he is learning what he is interested in learning. An openness to the acquisition of new knowledge is therefore all that I would ask of any teacher. (If only the NEA author had this basic premise!!)

Yep, this article and it's ilk do indeed look as if they were written by a bunch of people with vested interests, not wanting to come to terms with the semi-conscious realisation that their educational theories don't stack up.

HT: Natalie and Daryl.

Friday, July 08, 2005

London Blasts and What Next?

The explosions in London brought the road system to a halt in places as far away as the roads into Cardiff, when everyone slowed down to try to phone their loved ones. We couldn't move in the traffic for about two hours, and I couldn't make sure that the family were OK since the mobile phone networks were taken down. Despite the fact that I kept telling myself that it was very unlikely that anything had happened to family and friends, I couldn't help but gradually feel those adrenaline levels rising. The relief when we finally got through and everyone had reported back safe and well, it was unforgettable.

We turned round at the next available junction since we had missed our science lectures at the Cardiff University Student's Union, and had heard that Cathay's Station which is more or less opposite the Union had been closed causing further traffic headaches, so we headed for home to find messages on answerphones reporting everyone else we know safe and well. Thank goodness. Some of them had been near the scenes of the incidents and had heard the bangs, though none, thankfully, had actually seen the incidents.

The best that we can hope for now? That this concentrates the minds somewhat upon the issue of what to do with Iran.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Lunch in the Life

The subject of peoples' ages kicked off with Dh trying to convince the children that After Eight mints were only to be consumed by 9+ year olds.

Then Ds started on Dd, trying to perpetuate the element of confusion from which Dd has secretly suffered since she was 2, when she was of the firm conviction that she was actually 6.
You can just tell that this particular issue has her thinking we are a collection of witless dolts. She will tell you, just to keep us happy, that she is 3, but it is quite transparently clear that she believes herself to be 7.

On failing to confuse her further, Ds then turned his loose cannon in my direction, aiming it with great precision at my Achilles heel.

"She is 49", he announced loudly so that the other inhabitants of the cafe could not possibly miss this.
"I am NOT", I replied, equally loudly.
"She is"...he insisted.
"Why 49?", Dh inquired.
"I was trying to explain the idea of squares and square roots" I said, still shouting as if my life depended upon it.
"OK, she isn't 49, she is actually 81" Ds continued blithely.
In total desperation, I resorted to lying in an attempt to confuse and silence. "81 is not a square of anything" I whimpered.

Whereupon the man sitting at the next table, who for all the world looked like a maths teacher from the local public school, stared furiously in my direction.

At this point Dh and I finally realised that the children had eaten all the After Eights, bar a tiny bit the circumference of a toddler's index finger and thumb pressed together, which Dd kindly offered to us.

I have this lurking suspicion that we grown-ups are being taken for saps and that Home Education is working in it's own unique way.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Balance of Nature

----------------------------- Gentle Giant--------Killer----------------------

Something peculiar is happening to the food chain around here and it will probably require a conversation with neighbouring farmers in order to establish what is going on.

The thing is, we haven't seen a single fox since the ban on hunting with hounds came into effect and can only suppose that this means that foxes are being much more routinely shot, which of course also means that they many are being injured and are dying painfully slowly, often of starvation and surrounded by flies, with wounds infiltrated by maggots.

The fact that the mice, vole and mole population has exploded also seems to give the lie on the fox situation.

Our defences against rodents have effectively crumbled under the weight of this population explosion. Whilst the gentle and utterly useless giant wolf-hound cross was never up for the task, the killer cairn continues to do her best. It is quite hopeless though: the barns and stables are inundated with mice. Two springer spaniels visited today and we have subsquently found headless rodents deposited here and there. We may need their services again soon, or else must rely on a further upturn in the weasel and buzzard population.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Norm's Blog

This blogger is of such sound mind, clear thinking and easy expression that it is tempting to spend one's time just posting links to his site.

By way of example, a post about the worthwhile use of moral equivalence and what actually constitutes a genuinely worthy moral argument:

Despicable Hypocrites?

Then another, in which Norm asserts that his conclusions are obvious, though sadly this is not the case, either for a man as generally bright as Mr Dawkins, or for all of us when we succumb to the temptation to blanket style thinking:

Dead-end Dawkins

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Health and Safety Regulations are Bad for You

One of the things that is truly appealing about The Speccie is that someone in every issue, is bound to sound off about the nanny state. This is mercifully hugely cathartic and praise is due to all those journalists out there who sacrifice their own health and sanity in dealing with the horrible issue of Health and Safety.

This week it was the turn of Max Hastings to experience the full unpleasantness of his own boiling blood pressure:

"The Health and Safety Executive, one of the most pernicious bodies in Britain, is getting its claws into the countryside. For their own legal protection, shoot bosses now feel obliged to recite to guns at the start of a day a catechism of the obvious. This includes injunctions to sit down when travelling on trailers, and to unload guns between drives."

He goes on with an epigram that I may make my motto:

"Everything in life is about proportionality. Health and Safety lacks this,"

Sadly, and rightly, he also goes on to say "yet no one seems able to check its march to despotism."

Yup...It does often seem this way from here but am NOT prepared to accept defeat.